Very little can tank a company’s momentum, morale and productivity more than high employee turnover. Indeed, high employee turnover leads to higher stress, inadequate staffing, lower communication, and lower peer collaboration.*

But what if the employee has the ability to perform well, but you lack the ability to lead well? A key to leading your team well is to know them well enough to position them for success.

  • What activities give them energy and tap into their natural instincts?
  • What activities leave them feeling burnt out and stuck in a cycle of procrastination?
  • What activities draw on their strengths?
  • What activities require them to focus on their weaknesses?
  • How can you discover this information?

We help business owners learn this information about their employees and themselves through a two-step process – measure conation, then identify strengths.

Conation measures how a person naturally and proactively takes action when presented with a problem or issue. We measure this through a Kolbe A Index assessment. One of our clients needed to document their systems. Not wanting to delegate control over that process, one of the founders decided to take that process on herself. But months would pass, and she had yet to complete their systems manual. She dreaded the work and kept putting it off as more immediate needs arose. Once we measured her conation, we realized this task was not in her conative strengths. Indeed, she had low fact-finder and follow-thru strengths…two strengths that are vitally important to creating and documenting robust systems! With this knowledge, we helped her identify a team member who had the right strengths for this task. The founder delegated this task to that team member, who completed the systems manual quickly.

The second key to leading your team is to know their strengths. We rely on CliftonStrengths to inform leaders what their employees are already good at. Why ask employees to operate in their weaknesses, when they have unique strengths that will help them work better, smarter, and more efficiently?

For example, one of our employees has four of her five strengths in the Relationship-Building strength. We would be wasting her strengths – and boring her to pieces – if we placed her in a position to spend all day filing and handling paperwork. Instead, we proactively sought client-facing tasks we could delegate to her. So she handles all client phone calls and interacts with clients whenever possible. While she may have to do some non-client-facing tasks, those do not make up the majority of her days.

We often see conation and unique strengths interplay in matching employees to the right tasks. We had a client who struggled with an employee. Her job responsibilities included following up on tasks and accounts, trying to get a hold of clients, and responding to client requests as they arose. After learning about her strengths, they discovered that she was very analytic and process oriented, and none of her strengths were in the Relationship-Building domain. Most of her job responsibilities worked against her strengths! After shifting her responsibilities to better align with her strengths, she began to excel in her role.

Business owners need to know three things about their team members to set them up for success:

  1. Can they cognitively do the job? Are they smart enough? Do they have the right experience?
  2. How do they naturally take action when they approach a problem or project?
  3. Do they have the right strengths to do the job you need them to do? Are you positioning them in the areas where they can focus on their strengths, or are they working in their weaknesses most of the time?

When you do not have all of this information, you will lead based on YOUR strengths and conation. But to lead well, you need to understand your TEAM’S strengths and conation. Then, you can position the team in a way that maximizes their strengths and sets them up for success.

Don’t let another employee quit – or worse, get fired – because you failed to lead them well. Do your part and know that you did the work to set them up for success.

* Knight, D. K., Ph.D., Becan, J. E., Ph.D., and Flynn, P. M., Ph.D., “The Impact of Staff Turnover on Workplace Demands and Coworker Relationships”, Counselor (Deerfield Beach). 2013 May-Jun; 14(3): 20–23.